Notes From the Wasteland No. 41 ‘How Can We Stay Connected When We Are All So Separate Now?’

I spend a lot of time online at the moment, it’s what I get paid to do. And each time I enter a classroom and see all the separate frames of everyone who has also enter the classroom, the biggest fear I have is not whether we will cover the right topics, not that we will develop the right arguments, not that we will really get anywhere with the syllabus (because we will and we do), the biggest fear I have with each class a simple one, a primeval one, fundamental, existential; how can we stay connected when we are all so separate now?

How can we be together when we are apart?

I suppose the first way to answer this is by making sure that we have something in common to talk about, a topic, a film, book, statement, article, story etc etc. That’s fine and I always make sure that we do have, but here’s the problem; the one real thing we all have in common in class is that we are separate, not together, and all the topics, films, books, statements, articles, and stories, currently cannot change that. And that’s hard to overcome.

Can we overcome it? I think so. We can overcome this by being quieter, and kinder, gentler with each other, not expecting too much all the time, understanding that sitting where we are sitting and doing what we are doing is not where we want to be sitting but is where we are actually sitting so we have to make sure that the fact of our sitting where we’re sitting is something to celebrate not denigrate. It is where we are, after all, and so we should be pleased to see each other, to hear each other, to talk and laugh and joke, yes, joke, and share the time together.

The world will take care of itself, but only if we take care of each other.

Notes from the Wasteland No. 22 ‘Why is it so hard to sleep?’

Why is it so hard to sleep? I have a busy day tomorrow. I have to be at my absolute best as I reach out across the pandemic void to try and connect and be enthusiastic and keep conversations going and not allow myself or anyone else I am (virtually) with to flag but remain focussed and interested as we consider weighty debates and important aspects of learning that will likely have a direct impact on the people in my classroom and their futures. A day full of total and absolute responsibility you would say and this is the moment at which my body refuses to slow down and let me take a break. That’s why I’m writing this post now, in the early morning, downstairs in a silent house, hoping that each time I press down on the keys on the laptop that I don’t wake anyone else. The house is quiet, resting before we all fill it again with sound and heat and feet on its stairs. I imagine that this is the time that the house looks forward to the most, when everyone has gone to bed and it can return to its still repose. As I type I can picture the house feeling itself settling for the night, longing for the few hours it gets before everything starts again and its role as the house is no more defined by its desire but by ours. I feel like I should apologise to the house for getting in the way of its rest, and reassure it that this isn’t something I have chosen to do to spite it. Far from it. I would much rather be drifting somewhere outside of my day thoughts and feelings, somewhere slower and darker and much much safer but I can’t. I am here. I am writing. I love writing. It is all I love. But I wish I wasn’t writing now. I wish I was asleep. I need to be asleep. Instead, my mind was churned and racing and things I have only just started thinking about combined with things I have always thought about and the merging of the two, along with all the other fractured thoughts that come to me when I don’t want them to and make me think just far too hard and far too long. I fret about my teeth. It feels like they are falling out and will crowd my mouth with their broken bits, choking me awake some day, one day. I think of people I used to love, really love. I mull the circumstances that have led to me no longer loving them. I replay my many times with them, the times when I thought I would simply just die of love and lust and plain and simple passion, and those other times when grief and loss puckered my mouth as my snot fell free, issuing forth and down onto my already drenched sleeve. I think about all the hurt I have ever felt in my life, some deserved, some most definitely not. I think about all the hurt I have ever caused, some, I hope, wrongly, rightly, deserved, most, for the largest part, most definitely not. I think about bright says and dark times, all the slights and fights and times when the words I wanted to shout couldn’t form and I walked away instead, not only not happy about the circumstances of the upset but also because the words I hoped would help protect me simply weren’t forthcoming. But I can think of them now and if only it were possible to travel back to each and every situation where I had needed them, I would now deliver them with all the wit and power and gusto that my (foolish) words so desperately deserved and then, with all those wrongs now right, I could put them out of my head once and for all. But I can’t so I can’t and instead of resolution these same situations now return to haunt my open eyes and simply billow back and forth in my already bulging head.